user-generated accuracy

Now that GoYellow Maps has been live for a couple days, i find it interesting that the most common reaction is to note that the map data is out of date in some places, by between 1 and 4 years. we are not alone with this: pretty much saw the same phenomenon, and google maps encounters it too.

i am wondering if this is a trick that perception plays on us: if we see an image of sufficiently high quality, our disbelief is suspended, and we assume immediacy. case in point, when my dad first saw the nice bird’s eye pictures from MSN local, he immediately asked why the cars in the picture are not moving. while we wait for the advent of real time satellite data, the lesson seems to be that the additional precision and detail of hybrid maps make any problems with accuracy more obvious. overall, i think it is a fair trade-off given that these hybrid maps fascinate people enough to seek out these inaccuracies. i mean, when is the last time you heard someone get excited about inaccuracies in a telephone book?

it might be possible, given easy to use tools, to harness this deep local knowledge people have about their immediate surroundings. at which point you’d have yet another industry hopping onto the user-generated content bandwagon.